Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pre-Game Prep

Jim Schaefer at the Detroit Free Press has some tips for you non-Tiger fans to get ready for Game 1.

If you think a “closer” is that guy with the ’80s hair who prowls the nightclub with his “wingman,” then this is for you.

This is for you, in fact, if you think “PAPA GRANDE!” is an exclamation made during a middle-of-the-night bathroom emergency.

And this is especially for you if you’re still telling people Brandon Inge is your favorite Tiger.

Tonight, Mr. or Ms. Non-Baseball Fan, your hometown team takes to baseball’s biggest stage in a best-of-seven World Series against the San Francisco Giants.

So it’s time to get wise. This is how to look smart if you’re dumb about baseball.

• Never yell, “Yay, team!” or repeat any cheer you heard in high school. Instead, if a Tiger hits a ball over the fence, yell, “Touch ’em all, baby!” Better yet, invoke the late Tiger broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell by saying, “It’s loooooooooong gone!”

• Chances are, the last time you paid attention was the 2006 World Series. Do not root for Kenny Rogers, Pudge Rodriguez or Inge. You can, however, invoke Harwell yet again: “They’re looooooooong gone!”

• Tonight, if you’re hosting a gala for the game, mill about the room before the first pitch, fretting aloud over the Tigers’ long layoff since their last game, then say, smugly, “But Verlander’s got this.”

• The parents of Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta appear to have done him a disservice with the spelling of his first name. But you can cover for them by announcing to your friends, “You know, the ‘h’ is silent, right? And trendy: Surely you’ve heard of Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade?”

• The Tigers are playing the Giants. That’s the San Francisco Giants. Not New York’s football Giants.

• For trash-talking purposes, it is OK — expected? — to call the Giants “cheaters.” Although Barry Bonds, linked to baseball’s steroid era, is looooong gone, you still have material. All-Star Game MVP Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games for testing positive for testosterone this season. And, better still, Giants pitcher Sergio Romo, a key player in the postseason, is a leprechaun. An ACTUAL leprechaun. Check it out yourself. How is that fair?

• As long as you’re picking fights, feel free to refer to Marco Scutaro, the Giant’s MVP in the last series, as “Scooter” or “Li’l Scoot-Scoot.”

• It’s OK to fawn over the recent play of the Tigers’ Delmon Young, MVP in the last series against the Yankees. But leave it at that. Google “Delmon” and “New York City” if necessary.

• Remember, it’s “extra innings,” not “sudden death overtime.”

• Regarding Detroit first baseman Prince Fielder: He’s not portly, he’s healthy.

• Regarding Jim Leyland: It has long been popular to condemn the Tigers manager for maddening decisions over who plays in games. Now, with Leyland reaching his second World Series for the home team, this strategy is seen as cruel genius. Thus, praise is fashionable. Say, “How ’bout that Skip?” and “I was just joshing about canning Leyland.”

• If you encounter a baseball stats geek, don’t demur. Meet him (and yes, he is most assuredly a “him”) head-on with this: “Miggy is the league MVP because he’s the first Triple Crown winner in half a century. And I don’t want any nonsense about Anaheim Angel Mike Trout’s WAR sabermetric stats. I’ve got your WAR right here in this fist!”

So, now you know. You are armed to sound like a proper baseball fanatic.

Live long and prosper. Wait, don’t say that — unless you’re talking to that stats geek.

And what would a Tigers World Series be without the voice of the immortal Ernie Harwell and some of his classic turns of phrase?